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Calder – Miró – Dubuffet – Opera Gallery
October 20, 2014
October in London is renowned for its focus on art. The capital becomes a hive of activity with a series of celebrated art fairs, important auctions, and spectacular exhibitions across both public institutions and commercial galleries. Trends are set, names are established, and a vast quantity of money changes hands.
Opera Gallery has delved into its storage and retrieved a collection of work by three artists – each recognized in their own right for breaking down conventional barriers and establishing their own aesthetic principles. The transition into the twentieth century saw the birth of many new schools of artistic thought – realism, abstractism, surrealism – the list goes on. Artists eschewed conventions and sought to find their own pictorial dimensions within which they could alleviate their image. The image becomes a riddle within which the viewer must decipher their own reaction. Responses are no longer elicited by subject, but by a sense of colour, form, and space.
These three artists each exemplify this turning point in the history of western art: Calder was an abstract artist working with bold line and block colour. Most recognized for his kinetic mobile sculptures – his art is heavily influenced by nature and even his paper works feel like they project and move within a three-dimensional space. Miró exclaimed he was “assassinating art” through his surrealist, childlike shapes and shades, drawing on Haitian Voodoo art and his own feeling of repression as a Catalan under Franco’s regime – his pictures explore ways of expressing one’s emotions in a tangible form. Dubuffet, inspired by works of art by the mentally ill, created vivid and graphic images that were radically new. Powerful, dark tones and strong lines create images that are sometimes recognizable as landscapes or portraits, but often are purely abstract. His humanistic works are authentic and appealing.
The exhibition feels exactly like what it is: a selling opportunity. Little curatorship or scholarship has been adopted. One could easily attack the art market for such an approach, but it offers an opportunity to see these works before they disappear into private collections; museums can’t have everything. October is the month to sell and business is business. It’s shamelessly retail, but at least it’s honest.
Miró / Calder / Dubuffet is on at the Opera Gallery until 31 Oct. For more information go to www.operagallery.com/ang/event/index/index/eventId/267.